Photo Credit: Gershon Elinson / Flash 90
Author and Rabbi Haim Savto standing near the synagogue shed that remained from the transit camp where his family was housed upon their immigration to Israel, September 30, 2014.

There was a time, decades ago, when Jewish immigrants to Israel were housed in hastily built huts – somewhat similar to those in which Bedouin families begin their communities out in the desert and hilly areas of the Judean and Negev desert areas today.

That was true even in the holy city of Jerusalem, where Jews from Egypt found themselves living in a transit camp upon their immigration to Israel shortly after the birth of the state.


Author and Rabbi Haim Sabato tells the story of that time in a book he wrote – the fifth book he has authored, in fact – which talks about the difficulties he and his family experienced during their immigration to Israel from Egypt.

In the book Rabbi Sabato writes about life in the transit camp where he and his family was housed, which eventually became the picturesque Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Yovel.

By 1950, nearly 40 percent of Egypt’s Jewish population of nearly 80,000 had headed north across the border to the new Jewish state, a prescient move that saved them from the experience of the friends and family they left behind. The Egyptian government expelled its Jewish population and seized their property in the late 1950s. Today the Jewish population in Egypt numbers fewer than a few dozen.